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John King USA

News/Business. John King. Daily political news and stories. New.

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Us 12, Syria 11, America 7, Murdoch 6, Rupert Murdoch 6, Betty Ford 6, Gadhafi 5, Damascus 5, Mitch Mcconnell 4, John 4, United States 4, Mcconnell 3, John Boehner 3, Ron Paul 3, Glucerna 3, Washington 3, Michelle Obama 2, Ben Wedeman 2, Larry King 2, U.s. 2,
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  CNN    John King USA    News/Business. John King. Daily  
   political news and stories. New.  

    July 12, 2011
    7:00 - 8:00pm EDT  

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on earth. >> that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." for our international viewers, world report is next. for those in america, "john king usa" starts right now. >> thank you, wolf. fascinating reporting from libya where troops report a morale crisis and say they were told to shoot to kill any comrades who tried to flee the fighting. >> if you saw any libyan running away from the forward positions, you would shoot him. i ask again to make sure we understand one another. that was our job, he answers. plus live pictures here. a moving farewell to betty ford whose public battles with alcohol addiction were turning points. you see people leaving a memorial service today in palm desert, california. but first, president obama raises the ante in his showdown with republicans over giving the government authority to borrow more money.
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if there is no deal t president is now warning that more than 70 million elderly americans and veterans might not get their benefit checks. >> i cannot guarantee that those checks will go out on august 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it. >> republicans tonight call that a scare tactic. and the president hardly alone in drawing sharp rhetorical lines. from the left, blunt warn thagz the president better not count the votes of liberals, take them for granted, if the deal includes any changes to medicare and social security. >> mr. president, when you want to ask why the american people are frustrated, are increasingly cynical, it has a lot to do with candidates who say one thing and do another thing. if you told the american people you're not going to cut social security, then don't cut social security. keep your word. >> also tonight, a curious new
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proposal from the senate's top republican. senator mitch mcconnell proposes givinging the president the power to raise the debt limit without the blessing of congress but only if the president outlines spending cuts equal to the amount he wants to borrow. any new bore oeg. many conservatives respond to that with outrage. his prospects to negotiate a deal are, in his words, bleak. and his plan would prevent default and guarantee spending cuts. >> the president has presented us with three choices. smoke and mirrors, tax hikes or default. republicans choose none of the above. i had hoped to do good, but i refuse to do harm. >> let's get the latest on the negotiations. the stakes, and the fast shifting politics. jessica yellin is at the white house, our chief political analyst gloria borger here with me and in atlanta, erick
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erickson. i get the sense from my e-mails today that negotiations that are supposed to get you closer to a deal are going the other way. >> they're not getting any closer. there's no breakthrough. the way it was described to me was that the mood was bleak heading in. the perception is that there's so much of a fight and a bitter rivalry within the house republican ranks, that that is sort of gumming up the works for the whole negotiating team. clearly that's a perception among democrats. among republicans there's frustration that the democrats aren't putting enough on the table. the big picture is that the clock is ticking and these talks aren't bearing fruit. they don't seem to be locking down agreements and moving on to the next big issue which is what we call progress. they need to be making progress if they're going to have a deal any time soon. >> yes, it does require progress to get a deal.
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let's dig a little deeper here. jess just mentioned there seems to be a tug of war within the house republican congress. john boehner was talking about this grand bargain, $4 trillion over ten years deficit reduction package, that would have required some new rev news. some of us call those new taxes in washington, d.c. listen to the speaker today, it sounds like he's getting a little tougher. >> my message to the white house over the last several months has been real simple. the spending cuts have to be larger than the increase in the debt ceiling. secondly, there are no tax increases on the table. and thirdly, we have to have real control in place to make sure this never happens again. >> he says his message over the several months. but isn't it fair to say that john boehner is less pliable, seems less flexible today than he did coming into the weekend? >> yeah, i think he was told in no uncertain terms by the man who counts the votes for him, eric cantor, who has always been known to be a political rival of
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his, that there are no votes to raise revenues of any kind. the way you work this kind of a deal is nothing is on the table until it's a done deal and it's all on the table. it's very clear from our reporting, what we know, is that there were about $3 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases. there was a day not too long ago republicans would have jumped at that deal and rejoiced and said, we won. but now it seems to me it's much more about tax cutting than deficits. >> but that day was before the 2010 midterm elections and the rise of the tea party, which is a good point to bring eric erickson into the conversation. i want you to first listen to why he says so. senator mcconnell says he's looking around, trying to negotiate with the president, trying to strike a deal everyone could sign on to, but senator mcconnell thinks, not happening. >> but after years of discussions and months of negotiations, i have little
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question that as long as this president is in the oval office a real solution is probably unattainable. >> so what he proposes is in part to keep republicans from being blamed for any default is this plan where the president can do it, the president can write new checks but only if he gives congress a list of spending cuts. you say it's a horrible idea. why? >> because if you get into the nuggets of the plan, rich lowry pointed this out, that congress can disapprove of the president's spending cuts, the president can veto what congress has disapproved and then the president can raise the debt ceiling without the cuts actually happening. so in effect you're giving the president through this plan the ability to raise the debt limit $2 trillion with no actual cuts if he and congress can't agree on them. mitch mcconnell's one of the republicans out there saying this is all about policy and we've got to make these spending cuts and they cite the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff saying it's a national security issue. now you say, this is great
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politics. we'll let the president take the blame for it. >> part of the point for the mcconnell team is they don't want to be blamed for it. if the president didn't actually deliver with the cuts, he'd be walking into a re-election brick wall and that the republicans would have a very strong message against him. go back to the idea that they're still negotiating. the mcconnell plan is a live option, that they're looking at that as an option. here's another problem for the president. he has this huge problem on his right right now. listen to nancy pelosi. the former speaker who would like to be the speaker again after the 2012 elections. she's telling the president, sure, negotiate a deal, but listen to this. >> today the democratic women of congress have come together to send a very clear message we must protect medicare and social security. we will not support cuts. >> jess, we can debate the meaning of cuts, but if they're talking about getting billions
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of savings out of medicare, more savings out of social security, the president told scott pelley today on cbs, i think i can get the democrats to compromise. it seems with that the republicans seem to be emboldened to say no, too. >> it appears that alter algtss, let's not call them cuts, are essential in that package. there's some kind of tweaking that can still ademocrats to go into the next election and use the ryan plan against republican opponents and not be -- and that's still a viable political message. and one of the pieces to this, john, could be something that i've been hearing discussed today. i should say not from the white house but from sort of wise folks around town that we all check in with and say, how do you see this playing out. the next option that people see happening is maybe the senate goes first. maybe the politics in the house are just too toxic right now.
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and harry reid and mitch mcconnell sit around and hammer out a deal around the biden terms and they vote on it first, then the house has to accept what's done. >> do the wise people call cuts cuts or call them alterations or modifications? one of the questions here is who do you believe and who do you trust? because if you listen to the white house and if you listen to the treasury secretary and listen to people out in the economy, some are democrats, some are republicans, there are those who say armageddon. if you don't do, this it would be armageddon. a potential financial collapse. let's look at some of the things that people say could happen. and some of them certainly would. the question is would all of them happen if it came to this. but what would happen if the government defaults? let's get this to come down. no increases in the debt limit t government defaults. that could happen. the gdp could drop, home prices could fall, the value of the dollar could fall. creditors could dump. interest rates for all of us, not just the government could go
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up. the credit rating of the government would be downgraded. a financial asset fire sale. for this reason, one of the people who signs on to the not quite dooms day but serious home proposal is mayor michael blook bloomberg. >> if america for the first time in its history defaults on its obligations, it would have a catastrophic effect on our financial system and on our credibility around the world. it would also take a serious toll on our economy and that at a time when this nation is still trying to recover from a deep recession. >> so gloria, does that argument, does that argument hold sway or particularly in the house or the new guys, are they willing to say, you know what? we're willing to take that risk? >> the lot of the guys are saying we'll take that risk. the republican presidential candidates, you've got michele
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bachmann, tim pawlenty saying that he hopes and prays, that's a quote, that the debt limit doesn't get raised. so you have this argument, republican leaders like mitch mcconnell are saying we understand we have to raise it, but the new house republicans and the presidential candidates who are playing to the base of the party, which the news house republicans represent are saying, not so fast. that's where the mcconnell proposal is sort of -- this has no fingerprints, you know? it gives obama all the power. >> here's a tweet from newt gingrich. mcconnell's plan is unacceptable. i oppose it. how does this break down? is it by ideology, by philosophy, by generation? there's obviously a huge debate within the republican party over how firm, how hard to plant the flag, especially on the revenue question. how does it break down? >> i think it does break down
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both among those who have been in washington for a long time and those who have not. it is not necessarily an ideological divide. privately what a lot of conservatives will tell you is at the end of the day, they're rying to rev up the t.a.r.p. scenario where someone comes from the white house and says, it's dooms day, we've got to do this and all the republicans say, let's do it. and ultimately the biden deal gets done whether you like it or not. they're trying to stave that off. mitt romney today has come out against the mcconnell plan. >> newt beginning rip, too. >> newt gingrich as well. >> we'll watch this play out. i'm in the camp with erick. >> do we have to watch? >> that's what they pay us for. and this is going to go down to the end. because if they cut a deal now boehner goes to his conference and they say, no, we want more. the democrats go to their conference and they say, more
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cut us. parliament demands an explanation from rupert murdoch. why is the best known libertarian leaving congress? [ cat meows ] ♪ [ whistles ] ♪ [ cat meows ] ♪ [ ting! ] [ male announcer ] travelers can help you protect the things you care about and save money with multi-policy discounts. are you getting the coverage you need and the discounts you deserve? for an agent or quote, call 800-my-coverage or visit travelers.com.
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the country's best known libertarian is calling it a career in congress and in elective politics unless you decide to make him your next president. texas republican ron paul announced today he'll not seek re-election to his seat representing the district in texas. congressman paul said he'll concentrate on his bid for the republican presidential nomination. the congressman joins us from capitol hill to discuss his decision and the big deficit showdown. let's start there. in the big debate of the day, the president tried to up the ante. he says unless you guys cut a deal and congress raises the debt ceiling, that he can't guarantee that on august 3rd social security checks will go out, veterans checks will go out. what do you make of that? >> i think he's using scare tactics. that just isn't true. because the funds there for social security and these emergencies, the cash flow is good enough for that. and if they really needed to, why don't they just quit sending
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the interest rate payments over to the federal reserve. so no, i think he's using scare tactics. that's that old thing. it's social security. and if you don't do exactly what we say, raise the debt limit, keep the spending going, don't change anything, and i just don't believe that is true, that social security checks are going to stop if the debt limit is not raised by august 2nd. >> you're critical of the president there. i want you to listen to speaker john boehner who today after starting to negotiate with the president says, why this back and forth, let's hear from you, mr. president. >> this debt limit increase is his problem, and i think it's time for him to lead by putting his plan on the table, something that the congress can pass. >> i know you're not a fan of president obama, but is it fair to say this is his problem? isn't this everybody's problem? this goes back years and years. some of the money that's accumulated the debt. you didn't vote for him, but the wars in iraq and afghanistan
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have required all this money. it is fair to say this is his problem? >> no, it isn't his problem. as a matter of fact, even though i don't think the administration has helped get us out of the recession, it's gotten much worse. i never say it's obama's recession. i talk about long-term problems. i talk about military changes back in the '70s and creating the anticipation i've had that we would reach this point. so no, it's been many administrations, it's been both parties. even go back to the people. there's a high demand by the people to have entitlements. then there are a lot of special interests who think that we should be the policemen of the world. there's a lot of blame to go around. as long as it's a blame game and a power struggle, it's power and blaming and a power struggle and that's why we don't get anywhere. my goal has always been to get the american people to ask what should the role of government be? should the role of our government be to be the policemen? should it be there to tell us how to run our lives? is it there to be centroeconomic
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planners, telling us what the interest rate is to be? i don't think this is a budgetary crisis. the budget is the symptom of us not having a precise definition of what the role of government ought to be and the founders gave us the precise definition and that's in our constitution. unfortunately, we don't follow it. >> it is a question you have asked for many years back in 1988 as the libertarian candidate for president, last time as a republican candidate, this time as a republican candidate. yet you say you will not run for re-election to the congress. if you're not successful in winning the republican nomination for president and and then the presidency, sir, and the polls at the moment suggest this is unlikely to happen, is this the end of ron paul's political career? >> i guess all the way you describe it, i've been in politics, but i don't think i have a political career as much as trying to change the course of history and trying to change the attitude of the american people. so i've done that in and out of office. i took a break from congress of 12 years, yet i continued with
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educational efforts. so i think the philosophy of the people and the philosophy of our economic policy, that is more important than the politician himself or herself. so no, i will continue to do that. i wouldn't know what to do if i didn't continue this process, you know, of trying to change people's minds. so that will continue, and, of course, this will free me up. i won't have two campaigns to run, so there's a long way to go in this campaign, so i'm going to continue to work on that effort as well. >> you say a long way to go in this campaign, but why the decision not to wage two campaigns? let me ask this context. on the first day, they're standing up on one of the balconies and with ron paul and with rand paul. does your son's election, him coming to congress, did that impact your decision at all, a changing of the guard. >> i don't think of it that way. i don't think he does either. he's dedicated the same way i am to changing the nature of government and produce good ideas and economic policies.
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but i don't think he thinks of it in that manner nor do i. we do our best as individuals. >> we talked recently at the cnn presidential debate up in new hampshi hampshire. you were making the point after years of talking about u.s. intervention overseas and those questions about the role of government, you think in recent years things have started to trend your way. there would be many of your supporters out there that say dr. paul, if this presidential thing doesn't work out, why are you going to disappear now? >> i don't think i'll disappear. my approach will be somewhat different. there will be some. i've already read a few on the internet that worry that way. but the change in the country that can't depend on one person. it has to depend on more than that. not even one party. when you think about what has happened over the past, i keep referring frequently to richard nixon when he said we're all keynesians now, to keynesianism, a whole philosophy infiltrated both parties.
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but we need free market economy and sound money to infiltrate both parties because it's an intellectual revolution that i'm looking to and i'm involved in and the political process have just allowed me a voice and allowed me to express myself as a member of congress and now as a serious candidate for the presidency. >> the texas congressman and presidential candidate ron paul. appreciate your time today. we'll keep in touch as the campaign plays out. >> thank you. >> when we come back, a dramatic turn today in the phone hacking scandal in rupe urt murdoch's media empire. with diabetes, it's tough to keep life balanced. i don't always have time to eat like i should. that's why i like glucerna shakes. they have slowly digestible carbs to help minimize blood sugar spikes, which can help lower a1c. [ male announcer ] glucerna. helping people with diabetes find balance. [ male announcer ] glucerna. somewhere in america, a city comes to life.
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another blockbuster headline today in great britain's tabloid hacking scandal. the media barren rupert murdoch and his top deputies summoned before parliament next week. today a top police official said that it's highly possible that officials sold secrets to murdoch's newspapers. >> reporter: the multifaceted phone hacking scandal is suddenly focused on current and former police officers at london's scotland yard. called before plig politicians answer accusations of systemic incompetence and their answers are telling. >> we know that, there always will be. >> reporter: so who did take bribes? among those questioned, former police officer andy hayman who
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now writes for "news international." ironic that he led a criticized investigation against the company for phone hacking in 2006. >> while a police officer, did you ever receive payment from any news -- >> good god! absolutely not. i can't believe you suggested that. >> lots of people -- >> come on. absolutely no way. i can say to you -- >> mr. hayman -- >> no, come on, chairman, that's not fair. >> the police woman leading the current investigation into news international phone hacking says the reputation of the entire metropolitan police force is now on the line. >> i think it's everybody's analysis that confidence has been damaged, and i don't -- and i don't doubt if we don't get this right, it will continue to be damaged. >> let's try to get a sense of where this is going. with us the chief washington columnist and associate editor of "financial times" and the
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editor for "newsweek" and the daily beast. you see the former police being questioned including the indignant man who now works for rupert murdoch. where is the sense of where this is heading? >> it's very hard to say. i mean, every time you open the paper, it's a new disclosure, a new dramatic turn of events. this last thing on the involvement of the police possibly policemen were blackmail and were bribed, it's astonishing. at the end of this people are going to go to jail. but who knows where it starts? >> nick, when you hear these allegations, you think what? people pay for interviews sometimes, people pay for information sometimes, we don't do it here. but when you hear the police bribed for the royal's travel schedule, the prime minister's financial records. >> it really is.
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here in america that the secret service would pocket a payment to give away the details of a first family member's schedule or health records, it's shocking the way the standards and practices have gotten to over there. >> so let's listen here. among those who says he was targeted by this is the former prime minister gordon brown who is quite tough in this interview with the bbc here. not only is he saying this is an outrage this was done, but looks how he makes the connection with the kind of business he says murdoch is running. >> i think what happened pretty early on in government is that the "sunday times" appear to have got access to my building society account, they got access to my legal files, there's some question mark about what happened to other files, documentation and everything else, but i'm shocked, i'm genuinely shocked to find that this happened because of their links with criminals. >> links with criminals.
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a statement from the sunday times. we had reasonable grounds to investigate this matter. we believe no law was broken in the process of this investigation. ed on contrary to mr. brown's assertion no criminal was uses and the story was published givinging all sides a fair hearing. rupert murdoch and his top deputies are going to get called before this parliament. they're going to get tough questions. is there a perception that, okay, he has a tough hearing and he moves on or is there a serious consideration that possible criminal charges up through the empire and possible severe damage to the business? >> well, i certainly think possible severe damage to the business. the business has already been severely damaged. it is hard to say where that will stop. what will depend on how zealously murdoch defending his senior lieutenants. he's well known for being loyal to people who are loyal to him. he may calculate, he may take it too far, cross another line and
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provoke a backlash against the very top of his own organization. actually, i think that's how things are now shaping up. i think he hoped that it was enough to close down the "news of the world," that that was a dramatic gesture, but it wasn't enough. these new disclosures say that's not like enough. >> we have to see what he says in his testimony, we'll have to see where the criminal investigations go. we talk about the newspapers, the tabloids in the uk. obviously his biggest, his richest holdings are more in the tv business. and on this side of the atlantic, fox news, one of our competitors, obviously, has other sports holdings here. is there a sense "the wall street journal" even. is there a sense that the damage overseas will extend to here in the states? >> well, i think the folks in "the wall street journal" are concerned. not so long ago murdoch was a person that they covered, now he's their owner. even though the company's can damaged, they've lost billions in market cap because of this. the newspaper division is one that is relatively small
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compared to the company as a whole, and if murdoch has to u know, do the nuclear option and sell some of these british papers or even some of his american ones, it will actually probably help the company in the long term. he's an older guy and his love of newspapers has gotten him to this point, ll. a lot of advisers are telling him that newspapers are old business and they should focus on the film and the tv and the cable outlets. >> that's a pretty good assessment of the business climate, nick, but even if you go to your own website, you hear from carl bernstein, this shiz watergate. do people think that's a catchy comparison a great headline, but do people think that rupert murdoch equals richard nixon? >> there are wonderful similarities. sort of the beginning with a small incident whether breaking into a hotel versus sort of the small incident that kicked this off and the idea that there's this one rogue guy behind it, then the drip, drip, drip of
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news coming out makes it clear there's something much more damaging going on here in this sort of specter of a nixonian president at the top in rupert murdoch. he's nearing the end of his career. he's gotten out of many a jam before. it's unlikely this will topple him, but it will be damaging and the quicker he can seal it off, the better for the company. >> he's a controversial guy, clive, and there are some people taking pleasure in this including some of his competitors, let's be honest. in terms of the discussion in the industry, in the uk, are people confident this is his way of doing business or his deputies' way of doing business and the taint won't spread or is there a bit of nervousness? >> of course he's denying that this is his way of doing business. that's a very important point. you know, they're distancing themselves or attempting to from these unethical or outright criminal methods. the question is whether they'll be able to do that.
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i think if they can, then he will survive and may draw strength. he's an amazingly tenacious businessman. but the question is how high up the organization were these practices understood, people know that they were going on and endorsed by bosses at news corp. that's the issue. >> perhaps the question that will be asked in parliament, what did you know and when did you know it? >> exactly. when we come back, still fascinating reporting from inside libya tonight. and today's big headlines. constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating. with three strains of good bacteria to help balance your colon. you had me at "probiotic." [ female announcer ] phillips' colon health.
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welcome back. here's the latest news you need to know right now. the chicago sun-times reports that casey anthony may enter something similar to a witness protection program when she's released this sunday. the paper says anthony, who was found not guilty of killing her daur daughter s aware of her national reputation and is considering options to keep her identity under wraps including possibly considering cosmetic surgery. tv writer and producer sherwood schwartz died today. you may not know that name, but trust me, you know the work he's created. gilligan's island and the brady bunch among sherwood schwartz' programs. he was 94. up next president obama's clearest message yet about syria's leader. here at quicken loans, we like to go the extra mile for our clients. with the wassman family, it was 2,500 extra miles.
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today syria lashed out at secretary of state hillary clinton saying that bashir al assad has lot credibility. monday's attacks on both countries' embassies in damascus. here's syria's ambassador to the united nations. >> describing what happened in damascus as mobs attacks is very
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indicative of the real intentions of these two countries against my government. >> syria's government says it's pursuing a national dialogue with its opponents despite what it calls, quote, flagrant interference from the united states and others. ar wa dwa damon is in damascus. let's deal with this dustup. is syria saying they don't care about the debate in the unit or is there a sense that increased international isolation could be a problem? >> syria isn't quite used to being at the receiving end of brunt criticism from the united states and also from western nations. this is not the first time that it has been seeing itself in a spot of isolation when it comes at least to the west, but syria also realizes that it does not necessarily need to rely on the west or on the united states to be able to survive. it still has strong alliances
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with countries like russia and china and also has a very strong reliance in another regional superpower in iran. so while it might be isolated by the west, it certainly does have powerful allies that it can turn to. >> what's your sense? more importantly, what are the opposition leaders thinking after this national dialogue? do they think that it's a small step forward or a sham, the regime trying to say it has a conversation when it has no intention of opening up? >> look, john, even for those opposition members who did choose to partake in the national dialogue conference, there is still an extreme amount of skepticism and doubt when it comes to the regime's intentions. and by and large when you speak to the opposition, members to the activists, those who have been out on the streets, there's only one way that the syrian government can prove that it's truly intent on reforming itself. and that is to stop the violence, to release political prisoners, to withdraw the syrian security forces and military from the streets to
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allow an international free and independent media to operate inside the country. and they also want the government to stop calling the demonstrators armed gangs. until those demands are actually met, the vast majority of the opposition says this national dialogue is just talk. the only way for it to be put into action is for those demands by the opposition to be met. and the government does acknowledge to a certain degree that there is a severe trust deficit that exists. but it does differ on who it's blaming for the violence and what tactics it appears so far to remain intent on resorting to. and that's something the country's going to have to somehow resolve if it is going to pull itself out of this crisis. >> arwa damon for us in damascus, thanks. this just in to cnn. continuing the syria coverage. very tough words from the president of the united states about that mob attack on the u.s. embassy in damascus yesterday and even tougher
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words, toughest yet, from president obama when it comes to the assad government in syria. excuse me while i read this to you. this is from an interview the president gave to cbs evening news. we sent a clear message that nobody can be messing with our embassy and we'll take whatever actions necessary in order to protect our embassy and i think they've gotten that message. then the president goes on to say more broadly. i think that increasingly you're seeing president assad lose legitimacy in the eyes of his people and that's what we've been working at an international level to make sure we keep the pressure up to see if we can bring some real change in syria. very tough words from the president of the united states about that man there, bashir al assad, the president of syria. assad is not the only person to resort to violence against his own people. moammar gadhafi moved quickly against his opponents and has been defiantly holding on despite four months of nato military strikes designed to weaken the military regime.
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while many talk about a frustrating stalemate, there's an indication of morale problems in the army that gadhafi is counting on to help him hold power. we found proof of this. >> reporter: the prisoners speak of shortages of food, fuel and ammunition, of a libyan army beginning to fall apart. mohammed, from mali, was captured by rebel fighters in last week. the morale of the army for a while now is gone, he says. in all units, there have been many desertions. more than half of the men in my unit deserted says 30-year-old jamal, a captain. all of the men we interviewed said they had no desire to fight and several referred to special units, many composed of naturalized libyans from sub-saharan africa whose job it is to kill anyone fleeing the front. whoever retreats is shot, says
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khalid, an 18-year army veteran. >> ben wedeman joins us. anyone who flees is shot. those are the standard orders. if anybody in gadhafi's army tries to leave the front lines, the orders are to shoot to kill? >> that seems to be the case. we spoke to one young soldier who had been in the libyan army from just a year. he's originally from niger. he told us those are the orders that he'd been given. his unit, their job was to shoot anybody running away from the front. my impression in speaking with these other soldiers was given the choice of being shot by their own army and surrendering to the rebels and hoping to be treated well they took the second option more or less and certainly it does appear at least in the part of the country, the rebels do seem to have the initiative. for one thing, they're on higher ground. and they're firing down on to the gadhafi forces in the
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planes. the question is do they have the ammunition, the weaponry and the numbers to actually take the fight further, closer to tripoli. you hear a lot of talk of an impending offensive, but we've been hearing that talk now for several months. >> we have been hearing that talk. it's an important point you make because we've had several conversations over are we at a tipping point. obviously you can see a morale crisis in the libyan army. people dispirited and, as you put it, perhaps more happy to be prisoners of war than they are to continue the fight. do you get the sense, is it stalemate, slight advantage opposition or is it moving toward a tipping point? >> i really would not venture to make any kind of prediction about that. certainly what we see is that the rebels may have gotten about as far as they can before they really start to run into a strongholds loyal to gadhafi. there are a number of libyans still loyal to him and realize that the rebels aren't going to
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do any favors when they come in to tripoli. what they're hoping for if various cities around the world. it's always been a case of local residents revolting against gadhafi's rule and then making common cause with rebels. not one case of the rebels actually going into a city actually taking it over. >> great reporting from ben wedeman in west libya, ben, thank you. up next, her husband became president only because of a scandal but betty ford was a pioneering first lady in part because of her courage confronting addiction. larry king helps us pay tribute next.
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what a remarkable sight in california. first lady michelle obama and secretary of state hillary clinton talking with the former president george w. bush who is escorting the former first lady nancy reagan. at the heart of it all, an outpouring of admiration and gratitude for the life and pioneering work of betty ford, the first lady of the united states from 1974 to 1977. mrs. ford was eulogized by,
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among others, the one who succeeded her in the white house, rosalynn carter. >> i thought she was wonderful. and her honesty gave -- to others every single day. by her example, also helped me recover from jimmy's loss in 1980. >> cnn's larry king interviewed betty ford several times over the years. first, just your reflection. seven times you sit across the table from somebody, you get a sense of who they are. >> she was some kind of lady, john. she was special from the word go. she didn't have much of a cutoff between brain and mouth so she answered your question directly. whether it was about roe v. wade, alcoholism, her own problems, how the betty ford center developed and how she supported her husband and how she even at times disagreed with her husband.
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she was a little to left of gerald ford politically. what a stand-up woman she was. i had an honor of seeing a dinner in which all the first ladies came to honor betty ford. it was one of the really great nights in my life, just to be in the center of that circle and to be in her midst. she was extraordinary, john. >> larry, it's important, because some people watching, especially younger people watching, might not understand because they see celebrity rehab, they see celebrities talking about everything from drug addiction and alcohol problems and the like and it's part of everyday life but back then it was a huge stigma. let's listen to betty ford. this is october 1997 when you were talking about how back in the '70s it was groundbreaking for her to publicly confront her alcohol problem. >> did you ever say to yourself, i'm an alcoholic? >> i finally did, yes. >> what led to doing that? >> the intervention with my family. when my father intervened and said mom, you've got -- we've got to tell you that you're
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just, you know, it's a dangerous thing you're dealing with. and it was an intervention where they confronted me and told me that i had disappointed them. i was at a point where i was not really as aware of what was going on as i normally was. >> did that shock you? >> terribly. i was told i wasn't the mother i had been and i was hurt. i felt i had given my family every bit of the love and attention i could possibly give them all these years. and it was -- it was very hurtful. >> the president was one of these people telling -- >> he was very much in the lead of the intervention. >> her poise there, larry, her courage. there are many, especially from those days, who had addiction issue, alcoholism issues, who say it was her courage that helped them deal with it themselves. >> of course. albert brooks had a very funny line once.
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poignant but also hit it on the mark. he said, where did betty ford go? >> and the betty ford clinic of course was one of the most -- one of the -- still public sites about this. let's talk a little more. breast cancer was another battle she went through publicly. some of the women there today, the political women, hillary clinton, michelle obama, said she did so much for dealing with breast cancer in the public format. a conversation you had with her in july 1998. >> ma-- always been extremely on and frank when she had her mastectomy. >> was that our business? >> betty thought it was important for her to be open about it and thank goodness she did because as a consequence many, many, many women around the country went to have the examination that either pointed
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out the fact that that person had cancer or didn't. and that saved many, many lives. now, in the case of alcohol and chemical dependency. that was a much more difficult one -- >> but she did. >> she did and i'm darn proud of her. >> the late former president there, larry. they were partners to the end. >> the other thing, john, how many lives betty ford in the long run may have saved. countless, countless, in so many areas. i bet she touched every family in america in one way or another. >> it is a legacy that lives on today. younger people might not understand it. when you see theetty ford clinic and people dealing with this in public now, it is important because of the bravery she showed in a more difficult time, back in the 1970s.